Thursday, April 14, 2011

Santa Cruz Half

Belated race report for second half marathon of my life!!

I went into this race pretty relaxed which for any one who knows me, knows that is an amazing accomplishment all by itself.  I was about a million times more relaxed than when I did SJRNR last October.  This time I knew I'd finish and I wasn't trying to break any records (SJRNR was my first half ever -- and I'd only started running about 5 months before but I'd gotten a sub 2 finish as my goal and wouldn't let go).  With spotty winter training behind me, I was just hoping to get in the range of my first half and let this be the start of the official training season (Disneyland Half in Sept and NWM - half in Oct).   I had managed to keep running over the winter but I don't think I had a week over 20 miles.  A friend and I did pull a couple of  longer (8,10,10,12) training runs out of our hats over the last month before the race so I knew I could do the distance.  But still, not seriously trained by any stretch of the imagination.

So there me and my relaxed self were.  Ready to have a fun race and that is exactly how it turned out.  

First off the course is fantastic and it was a beautiful day.  By the 8am start it was probably low 50's and sunny so perfect race conditions. Now let me tell you, Santa Cruz is an amazingly beautifully place...and the course took advantage of that.

This is a picture I took about a year ago of the coast line:

And it kinda looked like that on Sunday.

So me and 2900 others start the race with a little incline and all in all it is pretty uneventful.  We are running along this road you see here but going the opposite direction of how this picture was taken.  Then we turn inland and at the 3 mile mark the 10K'ers turn around and we head out to a place called Wilder Ranch.  And that's where the fun began -- suddenly there were hills!!   And trails!!  Having done a bunch of trail running last summer, I wasn't unfamiliar with all that however, I hadn't checked out the course before the race so I wasn't expecting it here.  Silly me.  The course and elevation clearly show that there will be hills and trails.  Lots of little ups and downs and really no trouble except that I wasn't particularly trained for it.  So I just ran along and looked for someone to talk to but most people seemed busy just running.  So I left them alone and tried not to kill myself on the rocks.

But then I kept noticing that my time wasn't so bad.  Not stellar, but pretty good for me.  So I started thinking that this could be a respectable finish -- not PR but a fine and dandy time. The hill between miles 8 and 9 was fairly annoying and I had to get mad and it for a few minutes.  And then mile 12 to 13 was just exhausting but I managed to pull it together for the camera:

And this was a half a mile later where I really attempt to be happy:

I've yet to learn to run and take pictures at the same time so I don't have any of my own which is really unfortunate because I may not have mentioned it but the course was fantastic.

Anyway, finally the 13 mile marker appears before me and I start heading down the final stretch before I turn into the finishers shoot.  My two friends who had run the 10K were standing there yelling and cheering as well as a lot of other people.  Amazingly how energizing that is so I picked up the pace a bit, rounded the corner, hit the sand (yes, this is Santa Cruz and they have you finish in the sand!!) and make a 2.02.58 time.  Which for me is like lightening speed.  Only a smidgen slower than my SJRNR time of 1.59.02 and on a tougher course so I was feeling like superman.

I was pretty damned proud of myself.  I stayed relaxed, didn't let the other racers bug me (in ever other races I've done (all 4 of them) I'd get so wigged out by all the people), kept remembering to smile, enjoyed the scenery and had an all around great time.  Being relaxed is pretty cool (who knew?).

So that was my Sunday.  Extremely pleased.

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